10 Things You Need to Know About Pickleball

Professional pickleball player - Parris Todd (Photo: Steve Taylor)

The nation’s fastest growing sport is taking Americans by storm and growing more every single day. With over 4 million players and permanent courts located throughout all 50 states, Pickleball is officially here to stay. There’s no doubt that the sport captivates players from the moment they step foot on a court for the first time; with its social yet active nature, pickleball is making a name for itself among other major sports. Have you had a chance to get out to pickleball courts yet? If not, or even if you have and are still getting to know the game, here are 10 Things You Need to Know About Pickleball. 

1. What is pickleball?

The sport of pickleball is a combination of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. The sport is played indoors or outdoors. Pickleball is simple to learn for beginners, but has developed over time into a fast-paced, competitive game. The social yet competitive nature of the sport appeals to players across the country, and the sport is continuing to grow each day! 

2. The History of Pickleball

Surprisingly, the sport of pickleball has only been around for about 70 years. Pickleball originated in Bainbridge Island, WA., in the backyard of Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, a congressman and a businessman. While looking to play badminton, the pair could not find a full set of racquets, so improvised by volleying a plastic ball with ping pong paddles over the badminton net. Next thing they know, the sport of pickleball was born in a family’s backyard, making it the perfect game for kids and adults alike to enjoy together. 

3. How To Play Pickleball

Learning to play the sport of pickleball is easier than you might think. Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with a 34” net at the center of the court. There is a “no-volley” zone at the center of the court called “The Kitchen” that extends 7 feet from each side of the net in which players are not to touch the ball while the ball is in the air. Each player holds a paddle and the game is played using a perforated plastic ball. The game is played to 11 points and points are earned on each serve. For a full series of instructional videos to learn how to play, visit USAPickleball.org in partnership with The Pickler. 

4. What You Need to Play Pickleball

The game is quite versatile, so all you truly need to play is a paddle, pickleball, and a net. All pickleball equipment comes in all different shapes and sizes, weights, colors, and prices. That said, only USA Pickleball approved paddles may be used for tournament play, so be aware of what brand you are buying if you plan to play in tournaments in the future.

For most, what equipment to buy mainly comes down to what you are most comfortable with and what equipment matches your current level of play. All pickleball brands bring something unique to the table in terms of their branding, pricing, and more. Equipment can be purchased online, at a local sporting goods store, or at pickleball tournaments or events as well. As pickleball grows in popularity, there is a growing opportunity for retailers to sell their own pickleball equipment online, in-stores, and at tournaments as well.

5. Who Plays Pickleball

With almost 5 million players in the U.S. alone and growing each day, the market for pickleball players, brands, and tournaments is fantastic. According to the 2022 Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the sport of pickleball saw a 14.8% increase in growth from 2020 to 2021. Currently, about 40% of players are women and 60% are men. The average age of players is continuing to drop as well, from 40 years old in 2020 to 38.1 years old in 2021. The sport is young, exciting, intriguing to many, and easy for just about anyone to learn. With many ambassador, youth, and recreational programs through USA Pickleball, the sport is gaining traction rapidly throughout the States with no signs of stopping soon. 

6. Where To Play Pickleball 

With the popularity of pickleball growing every day, courts are popping up everywhere! At first, pickleball court lines were added to many tennis courts across the country; now, dedicated pickleball facilities are the new wave throughout the United States, some for competition play and other entertainment venues aimed at uplifting the family-friendly aspect of the game. Apps like PicklePlay and places2play.org are a great place to start to find pickleball courts available near you, or where you’re traveling to. 

7. Pickleball Lessons and Clinics

There is certainly no shortage of pickleball lessons or clinics at pickleball facilities all throughout the US! Clinics and lessons are a great way to sharpen your game and learn more about the sport. If you’re looking to strengthen your game, there are options to find a USA Pickleball Ambassador in your area that is eager to volunteer their time to teach you how to play or seek professional pickleball players that are often on the road hosting valuable clinics at unique destinations across the world. 

8. Pickleball Tournaments

What’s incredible about pickleball is you feel like an athlete no matter your age as there are numerous tournaments across the US to participate in! From lower-level tournament play to pro tours such as the APP Tour and PPA Tour, and the USA Pickleball National Championship Series, all levels of pickleball play takes place at tournaments. In addition, tournaments are a great way for pickleball brands to interact with spectators and players and get pickleball fanatics to learn more about their brand. USA Pickleball has all the info needed for tournaments and larger events at usapickleball.org/tournaments.

9. Pickleball Travel Opportunities

Pickleball is making its way to many iconic hotels and resorts all over the world. Most notably are hotels such as the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Mesa, AZ., the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center in Hilton Head Island, SC., and the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.. Of these three spectacular resorts, each feature on-site pickleball courts with hourly court time, group instruction, and one-on-one instruction with a certified pickleball instructor. All three destinations offer full-service pro shops as well where pickleball brands can sell merchandise and connect with guests that are interested in learning more about the game.

10. Pickleball Marketing Opportunities

As America’s fastest growing sport, and being a popular multi-generational game that all friends and family members can enjoy by just popping up a court in your driveway, the opportunities for brands to connect with fans of the game are endless. Between tournaments, magazines ads, online advertising, experiential marketing at events and more, there are more than plenty of opportunities for growing your business with pickleball marketing. Some notable marketing opportunities for pickleball brands include:

• Digital marketing

• Print advertising 

• Pro player sponsorships 

• Celebrity endorsements 

• Tournament and event sponsorships

• Collaborative Partnerships with other brands.

If you’re looking for more information on how to market your brand within the pickleball space, contact Laura Gainor, owner of Vossberg Gainor Pickleball Marketing, at laura@vossberggainor.com

We’re fortunate to have watched this exponential boom of America’s fastest growing sport and the fun, social and active lifestyle it brings! Visit PickleballintheSun.com and follow along as we share some of the top pickleball destinations and all of us enjoying the pickleball lifestyle.